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How to recognize different signs of dementia

HOUSTON – Roger Bare's mother has the most common form of dementia. She has Alzheimer’s.

"This past year, the tough new reality has been that she doesn't recognize me at this point," Bare said. "It's a milestone for her and where she is in the disease and that makes me sad."

In the early stages, people with Alzheimer’s may find it hard to remember recent events, conversations and names.

Bare reminds families it's critical to get an early diagnosis in order to slow the progression of the disease, and side effects like depression, with medication.

In order to recognize dementia early, you should know it doesn't all look the same. For example, the Alzheimer’s Association points out front lobe dementia is not Alzheimer’s. It impacts *behavior* more than memory.

"People who have frontal lobe dementia, you see a lessening of the ability of the frontal lobe. Less of an ability to inhibit, less of abilities to problem solve, those are some of the things that loved ones might see,” said Sabrina Strawn, community engagement manager of the Houston and Southeast Chapter Alzheimer’s Association.

Other signs of dementia include:
Tremors and trembling with Parkinson’s
Or sleep problems and hallucinations with Lewy Body Disease

"It’s so important to be able to catch these things early on, to have a better understanding of what's going on and then it gives you more time to plan, more time to access better resources in terms of treatment options and things like that and it gives the person who may be affected, it gives them more of an ability to be able to say what they want to have happen in the future,” Strawn said.

For Bare, the first obvious sign his mother had Alzheimer’s was when she got lost going to the airport, which was a place she lived nearby and drove to many times. However, he admits there were less obvious signs years ago that they wish they had caught.

"We were standing in the photo department of a store and she was there to pick up some photos of herself from a wedding. It was a niece in a step family who was marrying a man and she couldn't remember his last name.” Bare said it seemed innocent at the time except for, “the slight terror on her face."

He said he wishes the family had questioned that terror sooner with her general practitioner.

There is a hotline you may call to speak with someone 24/7 if you have concerns about a loved one. Call 1-800-272-3900 or visit ALZ.org/texas.